Monday, September 8, 2014

8th September, 2014 World Turned Upside Down

It's not unusual for horses that have been uprooted from everything they have ever known to be very unsettled and to exhibit behavioural problems in their new home - especially if they have been in the same home, even with their original breeders, for many years. The temptation is to turn them out in a field to get used to their new environment and to leave them alone for a bit. In fact many of these horses benefit from some early groundwork, the establishing of kind consistent and gentle boundaries, and learning that they can rely on their new person.

I'm not going...
Well done, relax

This morning I went out to do some of this sort of work with Hamoverian, Dove, who has been at her new home for about amonth having lived with her breeders for the eight years before that. Her new owner acknowledged that Dove's world had been turned upside down although she had done everything she could to replicate the environment and feeding routine of her old home. She'd found however that Dove's confidence had taken a bit of a drop and she seemed to have become a fully paid up member of the Flat Earth Society; even walking her down the track and round the outside of the fields had become a bit of an issue. Today we set about reversing that trend and showing Dove that she could rely on her new owner. Having gone through the straightforward groundwork exercises so that they were all in place, we began to walk down the track, using the basic principles of a (very slow) bean bag race. Using the trees and stumps as markers we went to 1 and back, 3 and back, 2 and back, 4 and back to 2, 3 and back to 1 and so on until Dove's adrenalin had come right down and she had gone from being 18hh to looking like a New Forest Pony.

and back
This can now be increased incrementally until Dove has a good map of her environment.

Lovely chat with Preston, the Boxer
"Thank you for your time and insight in to Dove and her behaviour. I really enjoyed our session and I don't know about Dove but I definitely felt better for it ...your methods are very logical to me and make perfect sense. I repeated our excercises as yesterday, today firstly in the field and then down the track. I found a sticky point in the field which we resolved very quickly using the excercises then proceeded straight down the track ( in small increments I hasten to add) with no planting of the feet or any sign of my 18hh horse!!! We ventured through the gate had a good look at the pond but coped, didn't go too much further and am delighted to report that at no point was there any bursting of any balloon!!" LM